2009 Honda Odyssey - First Steer
More power, more style and more space - who said family motoring had to be boring?
Gathering at Honda's Melbourne HQ on a damp Friday morning a group of Australia's motoring media was met with a garage full of fourth generation Odysseys all prep'ed, polished and ready to embark on an odyssey all of our own.
For the most part the trip saw us pass through some of Victoria's more challenging country back roads which, mixed with a touch of suburbia, a few freeways and some open highway cruising, put the Odyssey through just about every aspect of family motoring. If only they'd thrown some kids and a dog in the back!
The highly-awarded Odyssey has sold some 1.3 million examples globally since its introduction, and if today's drive is any indication, Honda's local sales target of 100 units a month is as good as done.
Now as first impressions go, and in stark contrast to Honda's "big shed", the Odyssey certainly makes a good one.
The car appears more Accord Euro visually, especially from the front, and though it seems more upright, is actually 5mm shorter (1550 to 1545mm) than its sexy, low-slung predecessor.
From front-on Odyssey boasts sharp lines and narrow headlamps with a chrome centre bar below the grille aperture, while a sculpted "V" line extends up from the sides of the grille and over the bonnet for a more aggressive, masculine look.
In profile the car is balanced and clean, flowing in a singular motion from more sharply raked "A" pillars, that are set back further than they were on the previous model, to a more steeply inclined tailgate which Honda says aims to provide the Odyssey with a more sporty appeal.
The rear lights are also set outboard as far as possible to add a feeling of width, an image bolstered by slightly flared rear wheel arches that work uniformly with panels whose curvature is continuously varied for a more contoured look.
In fact it almost seems too attractive to be a family hauler.
Internally the decor is quite stylish, and as you'd expect, there's a raft of versatile storage.
Fit and finish is excellent throughout and although the combination of curves, lines, textures and shapes may seem a little dramatic in pictures, after just one sit inside it all makes sense with the practicality of the cabin's layout quite simply ideal.
Visibility is excellent, and with the "A" pillars thickness reduced by 30 per cent from the previous model, an unhindered vantage through the wide windscreen gives a clear and panoramic view of the road ahead.
The same can't quite be said for the dashboard however with the positioning of the stereo a little distant from comfortable reach, the glovebox rather small in size and the pale wood-grain accents a little too loud.
Blue and White self-illuminating instrumentation is futuristic but relatively concise, clear and intuitive of function. The white LCD centre display contains odometer, trip meter and trip computer functionality.
Road noise levels have also been greatly improved with wind noise now almost non-existent. A very small amount of road noise is however evident in the upper spec Luxury model on coarse chip roads due to the lower profile tyres.
The cabin also benefits from the "V" design theme with the seating being configured so that each of the seven occupants has a forward-facing view.
This has been achieved by moving the position of the two outer centre-row seats inboard by 25mm and positioning the third-row occupants directly next to one another between the rear wheel arches.
Comfort in the second row has also been improved by increasing head room by 20mm and by repositioning the belt anchor points in to the pillar.
The centre seat now also gains a three-point seat belt to offer Odyssey three-point belts in all seven seating positions.
Third row seating has also been enhanced with more footroom (+40mm) and legroom (+30mm) than before.
Easier entry/egress has also been made possible with the "C" pillar's thickness reduced by 40mm to now allow a total of 320mm available thoroughfare area.
Additionally, all five rear seats now also feature child seat anchor points.
Up back, thanks to more compact rear suspension and an innovative under-floor structure, the Odyssey offers buyers a low, flat floor that makes loading and unloading of cargo even easier.
A thinner tailgate allows more depth in the cargo compartment meaning the new Odyssey can carry more cargo than ever before, and with a larger aperture, especially in the lower portion, bulky items can be loaded without the need for carpark Tetris.
The 50:50 split third row seat, powered in Luxury model, folds flat in to the floor to increase cargo capacity from 259 to 708-litres, a 15 and 36-litre gain over the previous model respectively.
Featuring the same 2.4-litre, DOHC, i-VTEC four-cylinder engine as the third-generation Odyssey, this new model boasts 12 per cent (or 14KW) more power to now produce 132kW at 6500rpm.
This improvement has come thanks to several revisions to the engine which include i-VTEC now being complimented by VTC (variable valve timing control), to ensure optimal response to engine load, a higher compression ratio, reconfigured coolant routing and piston oil jets to provide not only more power, but greater efficiency at the same time.
The exhaust manifold and exhaust gas collection area inside the cylinder head have been combined into a single unit, with a high-thermal resistance catalytic converter positioned directly underneath.
Fuel economy is claimed at 8.9-litres per 100km (ADR combined) and if today's drive is anything to go by, getting near to this figure shouldn't prove to hard an ask.
Torque output remains the same at 218Nm at 4500rpm, though with a flatter torque curve, the resulting drive is more versatile and linear than before.
The engine is tuned to run on 91RON unleaded and is coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission with Grade Logic Control and Shift Hold. The sequential shift seen on the previous generation Odyssey has now been deleted.
Honda tells us that nearly every component of this transmission has been redesigned - and it shows. Shifts are exceptionally smooth, and with the addition of G-shift control, the transmission now knows when the vehicle is being driven on winding roads and reduces any unnecessary gear shifts accordingly.
Acceleration however isn't what I'd call brisk, and though it is sufficient for the vehicle's intended purpose, the additional 5kg and 25kg of the Base and Luxury models respectively is a little evident.
Unfortunately we will have to be content with the four-cylinder's output with Honda confirming there will be no V6 or diesel option made available.
Rack and pinion type Motion Adaptive Electric Power Steering (MAE) is now standard across the range, as is a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column (previously tilt only).
The steering is well weighted but does lack somewhat in the feel department. Nonetheless the car points well and is very manoeuvrable at car park speeds with an improved turning circle making parking a cinch.
Double wishbone suspension and Odyssey's acclaimed low centre of gravity have also aided handling with the people mover feeling more like a mid-size sedan when tackling demanding country roads.
Ride is slightly on the stiff side but not so much that it's uncomfortable - controlled you might say - and despite all the lumps and bumps found on our day's drive, not a single rattle or squeak was to be heard anywhere in the vehicle.
On the safety front, the 2009 Odyssey now features six airbags as standard across the range and, for the first time, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA - also known as ESP) on both the Base and Luxury model as standard.
Braking features ABS with EBA and EBD on 320mm front and 305mm rear solid discs. It is also equipped with a learning function that automatically adjusts the assist operation threshold in accordance with the driver’s braking habits.
Pricing starts at $43,990 for the Base model and $49,990 for the Luxury model with both models now available.
- Engine: 2354cc DOHC four cylinder (16 valve)
- Power: 132kW @ 6500rpm
- Torque: 218Nm @ 4500rpm
- Induction: Multi-Point
- Transmission: Five Speed Automatic
- Driven Wheels: Front
- Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
- CO2 Emissions: 212g/km
- Fuel Consumption (Urban): 12.1 litres/100km
- Fuel Consumption (Highway): 7.1 litres/100km
- Fuel Consumption (Combined): 8.9 litres/100km
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres
- Fuel Type: 91 RON Unleaded
- ANCAP Rating: TBC
- Airbags: Front, Side & Curtain
- Safety: ESP with Traction Control
- Spare Wheel: Space Saver
- Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone (F&R)
- Cargo Capacity: 259 litres (seats up) / 708 litres (seats down)
- Tow Capacity: 1000kg (Braked)
- Turning Circle: 5.8 metres (at body)
- Warranty: 3 year / 100,000km
- Weight: 1645kg (Base) / 1700kg (Luxury)
- Wheels (Alloy): 16-inch (Base) / 17-inch (Luxury)
Base model features:
- Alarm System
- Cloth Upholstery
- Cruise Control
- Power Windows & Mirrors
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Single CD/Tuner with Auxiliary Input
- Single Zone Climate Control
- Tilt/Telescopic Steering Column
- Trip Computer
Luxury model features (in addition to Base):
- 8-way power driver's seat
- Electric Sunroof
- Heated Front Seats
- HID Self-Levelling Headlamps
- Leather Upholstery
- Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
- Leather Wrapped Gear Knob
- Six CD/Tuner with Auxiliary Input
- Tri-Zone Climate Control
Dimensions (fourth gen vs. third gen):
- Length: 4810mm (+30mm)
- Width: 1800mm (unchanged)
- Height: 1545mm (-5mm)
- Wheel Base: 2830mm (unchanged)
- Front Track: 1560mm (unchanged)
- Rear Track: 1560mm (unchanged)
- Cabin Length: 2850mm (+60mm)